Microsoft Corp. announced Friday that longtime Chief Executive Steve Ballmer has decided to retire within the next 12 months.

This was a relatively unexpected move since it comes a month after he unveiled a shift in focus for the tech giant.

Mr. Ballmer, who is 57 years old, will depart after a successor has been chosen. The company’s board has appointed a special committee—including Chairman Bill Gates—that will consider both external and internal candidates.

Mr. Ballmer was often criticized and embattled as the CEO of this company and it will be interesting to see who his replacement is.

His retirement letter to the company is below.

I am writing to let you know that I will retire as CEO of Microsoft within the next 12 months, after a successor is chosen. There is never a perfect time for this type of transition, but now is the right time. My original thoughts on timing would have had my retirement happen in the middle of our transformation to a devices and services company focused on empowering customers in the activities they value most. We need a CEO who will be here longer term for this new direction. You can read the press release on Microsoft News Center.

This is a time of important transformation for Microsoft. Our new Senior Leadership team is amazing. The strategy we have generated is first class. Our new organization, which is centered on functions and engineering areas, is right for the opportunities and challenges ahead.

Microsoft is an amazing place. I love this company. I love the way we helped invent and popularize computing and the PC. I love the bigness and boldness of our bets. I love our people and their talent and our willingness to accept and embrace their range of capabilities, including their quirks. I love the way we embrace and work with other companies to change the world and succeed together. I love the breadth and diversity of our customers, from consumer to enterprise, across industries, countries, and people of all backgrounds and age groups.

I am proud of what we have achieved. We have grown from $7.5 million to nearly $78 billion since I joined Microsoft, and we have grown from employing just over 30 people to almost 100,000. I feel good about playing a role in that success and having committed 100 percent emotionally all the way. We have more than 1 billion users and earn a great profit for our shareholders. We have delivered more profit and cash return to shareholders than virtually any other company in history.

I am excited by our mission of empowering the world and believe in our future success. I cherish my Microsoft ownership, and look forward to continuing as one of Microsoft’s largest owners.

This is an emotional and difficult thing for me to do. I take this step in the best interests of the company I love; it is the thing outside of my family and closest friends that matters to me most.

Microsoft has all its best days ahead. Know you are part of the best team in the industry and have the right technology assets. We cannot and will not miss a beat in these transitions. I am focused and driving hard and know I can count on all of you to do the same. Let’s do ourselves proud.


About the Author

Onuora Amobi is the Founder and VP of Digital Marketing at Learn About The Web Inc. Onuora has more than a decade of information security, project management and management consulting experience. He has specialized in the management and deployment of large scale ERP client/server systems.

In addition to being a former Microsoft MVP and the founder and editor of, he is the CEO of a Pasadena based online marketing education startup - Learn About The Web Inc. ( and The Redmond Cloud (

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  • Steve Nash

    Finally!! I’m so happy and I hope this is good news. Not inconceivable that Microsoft could go from bad to worse!!

  • Robert W. Burnham

    If it is true that a lot of the recent stubbornness of Microsoft has come from him, then this is a good move.

  • Rodney Longoria

    Wow … just Wow! I expected something like this in a year or two, after Microsoft had rebounded from the past couple of years major snafus, and Steve could feel justified in the direction of the recent new organization revamp — but now of all times?

    I sincerely wish him well in his retirement. So, who’s next? This is going to get interesting. I almost feel that one of the top engineers should get a shot at it, like Satya Nadella. Or, someone outside the company to bring in some fresh air and perspective. A visionary sort of leader. We shall see…

  • Ray C

    Well, when it’s time it’s time. He’s made some mistakes, but all CEOs make mistakes. He’s gotten a far worse rap than he should have. The pick of the next top person will be an interesting one.

  • darkpr0fit

    The main problem ballmer had was his treatment of suppliers customers and fellow employees. This is the best news that could come out of Microsoft. Ballmer backward management style was hurting Microsoft. Don’t let the door hit you on the way out.

  • Edward Allen

    It will be interesting to see who Microsoft selects as Mr. Ballmer’s successor. Julie Larsen Green, perhaps?